MARIETTE ADAMS looks ahead to the final round of the Six Nations, which will see Wales, Ireland or England crowned champions.
ITALY vs FRANCE (Saturday, 2:30pm)
While ‘Super Saturday’ promises to be enthralling, it starts off with a dead-rubber in Rome.
With only pride to play for, both teams will want to finish with a flourish.
Italy have lost all their games and will finish with the wooden spoon no matter what the result here, but a win for Jacques Brunel’s men would see them leapfrog Scotland into fourth position.
Italy have made five changes, most notably the inclusion of 21-year-old centre Marco Zanon, who will make his Test debut, and the return of veteran hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini.
France have swapped six, including the return of lock Paul Willemse and highly-rated centre Wesley Fofana to the starting XV.
Willemse and second-row partner Félix Lambey will have the tough task of disrupting the Italians’ lineout, which has a 95% success rate, more than any team in the competition.
Italy – 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Angelo Esposito, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Braam Steyn, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 David Sisi, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini , 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Subs: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Sebastian Negri, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Luca Sperandio.
France – 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Gregory Alldritt, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Félix Lambey, 3 Demba Bamba, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Etienne Falgoux.
Subs: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Arthur Iturria, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Thomas Ramos.
WALES vs IRELAND (Saturday, 4:45pm)
Both Wales and Ireland have their sights set on the Six Nations trophy, but the former are also within reach of a historic Grand Slam – historic in that Warren Gatland could become the first coach to lead a side to three Grand Slams in the Six Nations era.
There are several ‘Super Saturday’ title permutations, but for Wales, it’s just about getting the win (a team that wins all five of its matches gets an additional three bonus points).
The Millennium Stadium match should be a war of attrition between Wales’ defence and Ireland’s attack. Wales have conceded a tournament-low six tries, while Ireland have enjoyed more possession (57%) than any other team, from which they have scored 13 tries.
There’s not much between the two star-studded backlines, but Ireland have the forwards to set a platform from which their backlines can launch.
With Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray as their halfbacks, Ireland will be favoured to win the territorial battle. Wales’ scrumhalf Gareth Davies has kicked well, but flyhalf Gareth Anscombe has not been in the best of form.
Wales – 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans.
Subs: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Owen Watkin.
Ireland – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy.
Subs: 16 Rory Scannell, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Jordan Larmour.
ENGLAND vs SCOTLAND (Saturday, 7pm)
Apart from desperately wanting to win the Six Nations again under Eddie Jones, England will be looking to settle a score after their shock 25-13 Calcutta Cup defeat to Scotland last year.
Renowned for their expansive game, Scotland’s attack has been stifled this campaign as they have scored only 67 points. By contrast, England have enjoyed the least possession (43%) and kicked more, but have scored the most points (146) and tries (19).
It will be interesting to see if the hosts hand possession back to a Scotland side full of attacking threats who thrive in open play.
England have been particularly effective in the first half of games, with 88 of their points (more than Scotland’s overall total) coming before the break. They will hope for an equally impressive start to Saturday’s match.
Jones has made four changes to the team that thrashed Italy, with wing Jack Nowell and centre Henry Slade coming into the backline and flank Mark Wilson and prop Ben Moon into the pack.
England – 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Johnny May, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 George Kruis, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ben Moon.
Subs: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 George Ford, 23 Ben Te’o.
Scotland – 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Byron McGuigan , 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Sam Skinner, 5 Ben Toolis, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally (c), 1 Allan Dell.
Subs: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Chris Harris.
Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images
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